One18 Empire

One18 Empire has so many fascinating dishes on the menu, I want to try them all! Executive Chef Eric Larcom has hit it just right, and the food is perfect for sharing with friends (I challenge you to finish a dish on your own!). May of the dishes are made with whisky too. The menu is divided into sub-headings such as ‘Nosh’, which includes the totally decadent Maple Bacon Wrapped Dates, and the crispiest and most tasty Tossed Charred Octopus that I’ve found around here. For Mains, look under ‘Boards’, where you’ll find Grilled Duck Breast with fingerlings and beans, and Cedar Plank Salmon with a broccoli slaw (that I could just devour on it’s own, except I love salmon too much to ignore it) ~ this was a great example of Cedar plank!

Maple Bacon Wrapped Dates $6,Tossed Charred Octopus $13, Grilled Duck Breast $32, Cedar Plank Salmon $28 at One18 Empire, 820 Centre Street SE Calgary, 403-269-0299, one18empire.com@one18empire 

– Linda Garson, editor-in-chief/publisher, @vineanddine

 

The Nash

It’s been a while since I ate at The Nash, but it’s every bit as good as I remember it, just with different, but equally good, dishes. I lost my heart at the Seared East Coast Scallop starter when it came with grilled romaine and crispy bacon lardons and a Caesar dressing, and you can have a smaller portion (3 scallops and half a romaine) for $15 or the full works for $23, great idea! Our server told us that there were only 6 portions left of 12-hour smoked brisket when we arrived, and only two left when we ordered, apparently it sells out every day, and after trying it and the super-delicious spicy cornbread, we knew why! Also to be recommended is the Arctic Char for people who know their fish – sous vide in olive oil makes for the juiciest and delicate-tasting char!

Seared East Coast Scallops $21/35, Olive Oil Poached Arctic Char $25, 12 Hour Smoked Beef Brisket $25 at The Nash, 925 11th St. SE. Calgary, 403 984 3365, thenashyyc.com, @thenashyyc

– Linda Garson, editor-in-chief/publisher, @vineanddine

 

The Derrick Gin Mill & Kitchen

I was looking forward to trying the brand new Derrick Gin Mill & Kitchen’s menu, and glad that I did – chef Marc Bourgeois is very talented! I can definitely recommend the smoked tartare that arrives under a dome of smoke, accompanied by homemade chips, and the mushrooms on toast, to start. Great flavours and rich pickings – and both for sharing. My main of confit chicken leg with perfectly crispy skin, comes with gnocchi in a light sauce of cream and blue cheese… need I say more? Yes, don’t forget to try the Gin & Tonic Pie for dessert!

Sharing starters $13, Confit Chicken $18, Gin & Tonic Pie $7, at The Derrick Gin Mill & Kitchen, 620 8 Ave SW, Calgary, 403-475-7226, thederrickyyc.com, @theDerrickyyc

– Linda Garson, editor-in-chief/publisher, @vineanddine

 

 

Starbelly

Starbelly has changed hands since it has opened and Chef Jonathan Sobol (previously from Farm Restaurant) is having fun with gourmet rustic food in his open-style kitchen, not to mention pickling like a pro (check out the wall of pickled vegetables and fruits in the dining room). I loved the texture and kick of flavour in the lip-smackingly good grilled octopus wraps with Korean barbecue sauce and melted yet again with the pot of cognac chicken pate served with blueberry jam. The West Coast Arctic Char was perfectly done with its crispy skin. And the tender leg of lamb with mashed potatoes and green beans, carrots and pumpkin seeds with a cassis jus was a new menu addition that felt hearty without being heavy. Oh and Starbelly’s signature Root Beer Doughnut, a towering doughnut and bourbon vanilla gelato creation drizzled with brown butter caramel sauce, definitely ended my dinner on a sweet ‘oh-my-god-that-was-so-good’ note! Starbelly may be a super-south suburban restaurant, but you’ll be looking for any excuse to drive out to this Seton spot once you eat here once.

Octopus Wraps $14, Chicken Pate, $10, Arctic Char $26, Leg of Lamb $24, Root Beer Doughnut $7, Starbelly, 220, 19489 Seton Cr. SE, (403) 570-0133, starbelly.ca, @starbellyyc

– Lynda Sea, digital web editor, @lyndasea

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